Attachment Theory and Child Development

Early in my career, I wanted to work with kids.  I did my internship in foster care and adoption, and learned so much from my time there.  I worked with kids coming from horrible situations.  I saw families working toward adoption.  I went to court to relate progress, or lack there of, related to reunification and tried to help kids get into a stable home.  Sometimes that was with their family, but sometimes it was with adoptive families, but the goal was always to get them into a stable home.  Sometimes it was difficult, and I wasn’t liked very much, but I felt that doing the best thing for the child would give them a chance at a successful future and life.  When it comes to kids being successful, they need at least one person who is stable, loving and willing to teach them life’s lessons.  This gives them a platform to being successful well into adulthood.  Without it, they will likely struggle for many years to come.

I think child development should be taught in school.  Most of the people going through school will one day be parents and it’s important to know what to do when you become a parent.  It’s the hardest job that anyone will do, doesn’t require a license, but has the most potential to ruin a person’s life.  Child development theory has lots of different camps, but for me, birth to about 5 years old are the most formative years.  That is when attachment and bonding starts and kids learn to feel safe.  They have their needs met, from changing diapers, to feeding, to being supported as they begin to explore their environment.  They explore in the home when they are young, and in the outside world as they get older.  They need direction, support, and information.  This is when kids develop self-esteem and confidence.  They begin to learn how to regulate emotion, and how to deal with anger, sadness, and frustration.  With the right role model, they can be very successful.  With the wrong modeling, they can spend years in therapy.

So many things occur in the first five years of life, and beyond, and without support things can get really screwed up.  As you think about your childhood, what was your family like?  Did you feel love and unconditional support?  Did you feel safe and encouraged to explore the world?  What were consequences like?  Did they include violence?  So many adult problems start before the age of 18, it’s important to look at childhood experience when working on problems.  Children from homes without a safe, stable parent can have relationship issues.  We talked about the extreme attachment disorder symptoms before, but it’s important to remember that there is help available.

When you have kids, and are trying to raise good kids, think and learn about child development.  Learn the stages and how to manage them.  Learn what to look for and get information about what not to do.  Learn about attachment, and what it means to a child’s future.  In the end, love your kids.  Treat them as you wanted to be treated, when you were their age.   Attachment issues are generally generational, but I believe that things can get better.  I have watched so many people completely change the way that they parent their children, and it makes a difference for their children.  Make a difference in a child’s life.

Attachment theory and child development are linked.  They have the power to enhance or ruin a child’s life.  All a child needs is one person to care about them, in a genuine way, and they can be okay.  Sometimes, it’s a parent.  Sometimes it might be another family member or a teacher or a coach.  Who was it for you?  Could you be that person for a child you know?  Take a moment to learn more about attachment and development.  Better understand your own development, and get help if you need support.  It can help you, and a child, be happy for life.